Forwarding manager

A forwarding manager


Forwarding managers plan and organise cargo shipments within national and international areas. They communicate with carriers and negotiate the best way to send the cargo to its destination which can be a single customer or a point of distribution. Forwarding managers act as experts in supply chain management. They know and apply the rules and regulations for each specific type of cargo and communicate the conditions and costs to the clients.

Includes freight forwarding agents.

Forwarding managers typically do the following:

  • Investigate and plan the most appropriate route for a shipment, taking account of the perishable or hazardous nature of the goods, cost, transit time and security.
  • Arrange appropriate packing, taking account of climate, terrain, weight, nature of goods and cost, and the delivery and warehousing of goods at their final destination.
  • Obtain, check and prepare documentation to meet customs and insurance requirements, packing specifications, and compliance with overseas countries’ regulations and fiscal regimes.
  • Review pricing strategies and conduct profit margin analysis to maintain competitiveness,
  • Negotiate rates contracts with carriers / airlines / vendor.
  • Liaise with local vendors to move goods (by road, rail, air or sea) in accordance with customer requirements.
  • Participate actively in the day-to-day operation.
  • Prepare shipping documents such as invoices, B/L, permit declaration and shipping related issues to meet all requirements and authority.
  • Maintain existing customer and develop new business account.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to forwarding manager:

freight forwarding agent
export manager
freight forwarding, head
head of freight forwarding
freight forwarding manager
forwarding supervisor
logistics line manager

Minimum qualifications

A bachelor’s degree in business administration, logistics, or supply chain is generally recommended to work as a forwarding manager. A significant experience in logistics and supply chain industry, as well as the ability to lead and manage staff, are also essential for this role.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Forwarding manager is a Skill level 3 occupation.

Forwarding manager career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to forwarding manager.

shipping agent
non-vessel operating common carrier
international forwarding operations coordinator
customs and excise officer
import export specialist in china and other glassware

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of forwarding manager. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of forwarding manager with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

intermodal logistics manager
logistics and distribution manager
agricultural machinery and equipment distribution manager
agricultural raw materials, seeds and animal feeds distribution manager
beverages distribution manager

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of forwarding manager.

  • Cost metrics: Know various routing protocols to calculate itineraries; compare different possible routes and determine the most efficient one. Understand topological and link-state databases.
  • Supply chain management: The flow of goods in the supply chain, movement and storage of raw materials, work-in-process inventory, and finished goods from point of origin to point of consumption.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of forwarding manager.

  • Manage freight payment methods: Manage freight payment methods in accordance with the procedure that must be followed wherein payment is made around the time the freight is due to arrive, clear customs, and be released.
  • Exert a goal-oriented leadership role towards colleagues: Embrace a leadership role in the organisation and with colleagues as to provide coaching and direction to subordinates aiming at the achievement of specific objectives.
  • Meet non vessel operating common carriers rules: Understand regulations and rules in the field of non vessel operating common carriers (NVOCC), common carriers that do not operate the vessels by which ocean transportation is provided.
  • Oversee shipment routing: Organise the distribution of the cargo, also known as ‘forwarding’. Take into account the instructions of the client and determine where regular routing or various routings may be required.
  • Implement short term objectives: Define priorities and immediate actions for the short future.
  • Prepare bills of lading: Prepare bills of lading and associated shipping documentation in accordance with customs and legal requirements.
  • Foster relationships with various types of carrier: Establish relationships with various types of carriers e.g. trucking companies, air freighters and ocean liners.
  • Assess carriers: Evaluate carrier performance; evaluate strengths and weaknesses, network and infrastructure.
  • Make bids in forward auctions: Create and provide forward bids, taking into account possible special requirements such as refrigeration of goods or transport of potentially hazardous materials.
  • Inspect carrier documents: Inspect written or digital official documents required by carrier or country of import or transit.
  • Coordinate export transportation activities: Coordinate all export transportation operations while considering export strategies and services.
  • Communicate with shipment forwarders: Maintain a good flow of communication with shipper and freight forwarders, who ensure a correct delivery and distribution of goods.
  • Oversee cargo storage requirements: Oversee the implementation of requirements in the storage of customer cargo.
  • Book cargo: Book cargo for shipment following customer specifications.
  • Analyse supply chain trends: Analyse and make predictions about trends and evolutions in supply chain operations in relation to technology, efficiency systems, types of products shipped, and logistical requirements for shipments, in order to remain at the forefront of supply chain methodologies.
  • Manage carriers: Manage carriers and help customers in assessing route, performance, mode, and costs.
  • Have access to shipping rates: Have the ability to access information about shipping rates and compare the information across providers. Use this information to prepare bids for clients.
  • Plan medium to long term objectives: Schedule long term objectives and immediate to short term objectives through effective medium-term planning and reconciliation processes.
  • Plan transport operations: Plan mobility and transport for different departments in order to obtain the best possible movement of equipment and materials. Negotiate the best possible delivery rates. Compare different bids and select the most reliable and cost-effective bid.
  • Manage medium term objectives: Monitor medium term schedules with budget estimations and reconciliation on a quarterly basis.
  • Coordinate import transportation activities: Oversee import transportation operations; optimise import processes and service strategies.
  • Develop efficiency plans for logistics operations: Elaborate and implement plans in order to increase efficiency and reduce waste during logistics operations.
  • Prepare documentation for international shipping: Understand how to prepare and process official documents for international shipping.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of forwarding manager. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Freight transport methods: Understand different modalities of transport such as air, sea, or intermodal freight transport. Specialise in one of the modalities and possess a deeper knowledge of the details and procedures of that modality.
  • Principles of cargo stowage: Understand the principles of cargo stowage. Understand procedures by which containers should be efficiently loaded and unloaded, taking into account gravitational forces that are exerted during transportation.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of forwarding manager. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

ISCO group and title

3331 – Clearing and forwarding agents

  1. Forwarding manager – ESCO
  2. Featured image: Photo by Pat Whelen on Unsplash
Last updated on January 12, 2023

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